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Track and Field: Five athletes compete at Grand Valley State

Aaron Sant-Miller | Sunday, February 12, 2012

With the Big East indoor championships fast approaching, most of the team used this past weekend to prepare for the championship meet. But last Friday, five Irish runners competed in one final meet before the team moved forward, running in the GVSU Big Meet at Grand Valley State’s Kelly Family Sports Center.

The athletes competed because they either were unable to do much racing up until Friday during the season or needed another race to compete in the Big East championship meet, Irish coach Joe Piane said.

“There were some guys who needed another race and we were happy that we were able to provide that for them,” Piane said.

Freshman George Atkinson led the Irish with a fourth place finish in the 200-meter dash. Atkinson, also a Notre Dame football player, finished in a blazing 22.01 seconds. The time not only helped him place well in the race, but also qualified him to compete next weekend at the Big East championships.

Sophomore Bennett Jackson, who also plays for the Irish football team, finished sixth in the 60-meter hurdles with a time of 8.23 seconds.

“Bennett ran well in the hurdles and every time he runs he gets even better,” Piane said.

Also running was Atkinson’s brother, freshman Josh Atkinson. The brothers ran together in the 60-meter preliminaries with Josh Atkinson finishing 13th at 7.03 seconds and George Atkinson finishing third at 6.85 seconds. George Atkinson went on to race in the finals for the 60-meter dash, finishing 10th with a time of 6.99 seconds.

“George set a [personal record] in the 60-meter so that was a big race for him,” Piane said. “Also, Josh has been solid all year and this race was no different.”

Sophomore Bryce Wood rounded out the men’s team. Wood also competed in the preliminaries for the 60-meter hurdles and placed 24th with a time of 8.80 seconds.

The Irish women had only one racer, freshman Jade Barber. Barber competed in the women’s 60-meter hurdles and placed 17th in the preliminaries with a time of 9.14 seconds to qualify for the finals. In the finals, she finished 10th with a time of 8.87 seconds.

“Jade did a really good job with the hurdles and could very well make the finals this weekend at the Big East race,” Piane said.

Meanwhile, the rest of the Irish runners were given the week off to prepare.

“You can’t race every weekend, so this was a great weekend to have off for those who didn’t need another race,” Piane said.

One of those runners who had the weekend off was junior middle distance runner Jeremy Rae.

“This is the first week we’ve had off in awhile, so we just took advantage of the opportunity and put in some hard work,” Rae said.

This hard work will help the team in many ways for the race, some less obvious than others, Rae said.

“Working hard this weekend gives us the ability to back off and rest a little bit during the week, which will pay off this upcoming weekend,” Rae said.

The Irish will continue to prepare for the Big East championships, which take place Saturday and Sunday in New York City.

Contact Aaron Sant-Miller at asantmil@nd.edu